Second edition of program begins 26-week run this month
By Tim Ruhnke, Journal Editor
The Prescott Journal, Wednesday, June 4, 2003
PRESCOTT The Prescott Blossoms program has been renewed for a second season.
Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC) is providing funding of almost $150,000 from its Skills Link Program, it was announced Monday. Ten participants will receive work experience and develop skills during the 26-week program that begins later this month.
Nine young adults graduated from the first edition of Prescott Blossoms that completed its half-year run in February. "We had a great team last year," said project co-ordinator Mike Laking.
Astrid Strader returns as project controller for Prescott Blossoms 2003, Laking noted. Sue Hiltz and Deborah Smith will serve as project directors. Hiltz is a former head gardener in Brockville; Smith is artistic director of the St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival.
The festival is one of the project partners; the others are the Town of Prescott and the Rotary Club of Prescott.
Smith said this year's participants will perform a variety of duties, including handing out programs and meeting and greeting audience members at performances of The Tempest this June and July at the amphitheatre. Prescott Blossoms participants will also do crowd control and assist with set construction and stage management.
Janice Spencer has been hired as the program's field and administrative assistant.
Prescott Mayor Robert Lawn said at a news conference Monday night he and council are thrilled and delighted the program will return after being "so highly successful" last year. Much of that program was devoted to the Heritage River Trail area where new pathways were created and dozens of trees and bushes were planted.
Laking said the waterfront will serve as a training area for this year's edition of Prescott Blossoms. He added there is still some donated money left over from last year's program for trees in the waterfront area near Fort Wellington.
The first set of participants also gave facelifts to some park areas in town and designed storefront plantings as well as learned about nutrition, cooking and job-readiness.
Laking indicated 82 per cent of last year's participants are now employed full-time.
To be eligible for this year's Prescott Blossoms, candidates must be between the ages of 16 and 30 and be Ontario Works recipients. Anyone interested in applying should do so at the Ontario Works office in Prescott.
Laking said interviews will likely be held early next week. Successful candidates are expected to begin their duties the week of June 16.
HRDC provided about $147,000 in funding to the first edition of Prescott Blossoms. Laking noted an estimated $179,000 worth of in-kind donations of materials and services is expected as part of the second phase of the program.
"I am really looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish this year," he stated.
Laking also noted Monday night Leeds-Grenville MP Joe Jordan had been helpful in the effort to secure program funding. Jordan was unable to attend the press conference.